September 9, 2016
Another day of waking up in the middle of the night to go on an adventure that makes it all worth it.
The people of the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary came to pick us up at our hostel in Chiang Mai at 6.30AM. We chose the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary because we wanted to interact with elephants but we didn’t want to ride them. You see, riding elephants is obviously not good for the animals and we just didn’t want to hurt those beautiful creatures in order to get the ‘perfect holiday picture’ or to get the ‘ultimate experience’. No, riding an elephant wasn’t on our bucket list and so we looked all over to find an elephant-friendly company. We came upon the EJS after searching for quite some time and we immediately felt like it was the right place for us. We were so excited to interact with these giant animals in an animal-friendly way and we just couldn’t wait to get to the camp.
After a 2-hour drive through the Chiang Mai jungle, we spotted a baby elephant in the distance and we knew that in just a few minutes, we’d be eye-to-eye with the giants. There was a small bamboo hut in which we all sat and listened to the information given to us about the animals. In order to put the animals at ease, all of us had to wear a traditional Karen shirt. The elephants were used to these shirts and their smell.
We got to feed the elephants bananas and sugar canes (which they enjoyed a lot). It was amazing how close we could get to these stunning and powerful creatures. I’ll admit, I was a bit scared at first but I got over it pretty quickly because they were just SO sweet!
One of the things I liked most about the camp was the space the animals got. Most touristy elephant camps cramp them in a little space and just mistreat them in general, but at EJS they could roam free. The camp was located on a mountain next to a big forest, and the people at the camp told us that they often went into the forest to explore and do their own thing. The elephants always returned because their caretakers were their friends and they would never abandon them.
After having devoured all the food they could find, the elephants led us to a mud pool down the hill where we got to cover them with mud and of course have a giant mud fight. Then it was time to go wash off in the river. We sometimes had to duck away because the elephants tended to play in the water and jump around, but I still can’t believe how amazing it felt to be able to spend time with these absolutely gorgeous (and enormous) creatures. Truly one of the most amazing/insane things I’ve ever done.
We said goodbye to the elephants and headed over to Doi Suthep, one of the most famous temples in Thailand. Climbing all the way to the top by foot was a bit too much for us so we took one of those buses (called songthaew) to the base of the temple. We obviously did still take the stairs up to the temple because you can’t just visit Doi Suthep without dying a little first, right?? The gold plated temple was so unique and special to see and the view from the top was absolutely stunning!
We ended the night with some all you can eat sushi.